Back to Basics: the old stand-bys and my, how far we’ve come

Sometimes, I think, I bite of more than I can chew. And I know exactly what that looks like, since my 2YO regularly has so much food shoved in her mouth that she can’t close it. Not only is it bad for digestion, it’s downright unattractive. Anyway, I digress.

“When stress levels rise, when distress appears, when tragedy strikes, too often we attempt to keep up the same frantic pace or even accelerate, thinking somehow that the more rushed our pace, the better off we will be….One of the characteristics of modern life seems to be that we are moving at an ever-increasing rate, regardless of turbulence or obstacles.”

So, I’ve done it again. This time though, it’s not at all food related. Well, not really. I’m just extra busy with my kids. It’s wonderful and I am so grateful we’ve made the choices we have, but it’s putting pressure on areas that previously had a little wiggle room. Throw in teething (two in three days – really?) and a traveling husband with funerals to attend to and soccer for my 5YO, and well, something had to give.

I think most of us intuitively understand how important the fundamentals are. It is just that we sometimes get distracted by so many things that seem more enticing.

What had to give, sadly, has been my creativity and fancifulness in the kitchen. Dinner has become more of a 50-yard dash (and I use 50 because that’s totally a kid race and I’m totally falling back on kid food) than a loping 10K. (Marathons are pre-kid, let’s be fair.)

“My dear brothers and sisters, we would do well to slow down a little, proceed at the optimum speed for our circumstances, focus on the significant, lift up our eyes, and truly see the things that matter most.”

                                                                                                                    ~”Of Things that Matter Most“, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

So we’ve been eating a lot of oatmeal at breakfast (my kids actually cheer when we do, so I don’t feel guilty), I’ve been baking this bread (I know it’s not vegan – can you still love me?) and making fresh vegetable sandwiches with garden fresh cucumbers and tomatoes and onions and carrot butter – YUM!, eating Chef AJs dressing on plain Costco greens day in and day out, putting a bunch of stuff in a slow cooker and calling it soup (and then throwing it out when it’s terrible), and shoving more and more green beans from the garden into the fridge with a prayer that I’ll eventually deal with them.

And then on a whim, I resurrected these flautas. But I made them better. And had fresh tomatillo salsa (I’m sure that post is to come…someday). And then we had them again three days later. Quite simply, they were happy, healthy, kid-friendly, and super-fast if you use canned beans. And if you cut things small, you can shove a lot of veggies into them without anybody caring. Mind you, the recipe is totally loose on how you put together your filling. I think the most important part is baking at 425 for 12-17 minutes.

Baked flautas:
Bean filling:

2-3 cans black or pinto beans, drained & rinsed OR 4-5 c. cooked beans

½ c. diced onion

½ c. water

A splash of whatever salsa you have on hand

Add to small saucepan and cook down until creamy and beans start breaking down (help them along with a bit of mashing – you’ll feel better as you do it too.

1-2 c. diced vegetables (peppers, onions, summer squash, carrots)

In another pan, quickly sauté your diced vegetables in a bit of oil or water, just so they’re tender. Then add vegetables to the bean mixture with ½ to 1 c. leftover cooked grains if you have them, and let it all cook until it’s nice and mashy.

Divvy the filling up between 8 tortillas and roll them up. Put them on a cookie sheet, brush lightly with oil, and bake at 425 for 12-17 minutes, depending on how big they are.

Enjoy with guacamole (the best!) and salsa.

And now, I’m going to bed.

Cheezy-Smokey-Spicy Vegan Black Bean Soup

This soup is so good it deserves its own blog post even though it’s Green Smoothie Challenge approved! Yes, it’s cheezy, smokey and spicy. Oh yeah. If you want to limit the spice, switch anaheims for green peppers and don’t add the cayenne. If you want to maximize the spice, switch anaheims for jalepenos and double the cayenne. If you are really trying to up the greens, add 4 C. chopped spinach or kale to it when you add the black beans.

Cheezy-Smoky-Spicy Vegan Black Bean Soup

1 very large or 2 small onions, finely diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 diced carrots

4 diced anaheim peppers (mild to medium heat) or 2 jalepenos depending on your heat-o-meter

1 red bell pepper, diced

2 diced roma tomatoes

3 cans low sodium black beans, drained and rinsed

4 C. water

1 T. better then bullion’s low sodium vegetable base

2 T. ground cumin

1 t. oregano

1 T. chili powder

2 t. smoked paprika

1/4 t. cayenne pepper

2 T. tahini

1 C. nutritional yeast

Salt to taste

Directions: Place anaheims, red bell peppers and onions on a large foil lined baking sheet and broil for 5-10 minutes until a little bit charred, watch carefully so they don’t burn to a crisp! Add peppers and onions to a large Saucepan and water saute with garlic, carrots, tomatoes and spices until onions are translucent and soft. Add water, black beans and vegetable base.  Simmer for around 10 minutes more. Add nutritional yeast and tahini. Pulse a few times with a stick blender to make a smooth/chunky consistency. Top with diced tomato and chopped cilantro if desired. For those of you not on the Green Smoothie Challenge, feel free to add avocado, or tofu sour cream. MMmmmM! So good!

Makes 6 two cup servings. Those on the challenge limit it to the serving size!

Here are the stats:

Cheezy-Smokey-Spicy Vegan Black Bean Soup
Serving Size 2 cups
Amount Per Serving
Calories 320.74 Calories from Fat  45
% Daily Value
Total Fat 4.87g 7%
   Saturated Fat 0.46g 2%
   Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 661.52mg  28%
Total Carbohydrate 56.25g 19%
   Dietary Fiber 17.94g 72%
   Sugars 5.26g
Protein 25.08g  50%
Vitamin A (IU) 234.33 5%
Vitamin C 28.44mg 47%
Calcium 134.41mg 13%
Iron 6.36mg 35%

Smokey Vegan Split Pea Soup

My mom emailed me and asked me for a split pea soup recipe a month or so ago. I had always made split pea in the past with a ham bone and didn’t know how I could make one without it that would compare. So I forgot and never emailed her back. I was looking in my pantry last night, saw the split peas and thought, why not? I concocted this recipe for last nights dinner.

I hit the vegan fake meat flavor jackpot! My daughter said “Mom, I thought we weren’t eating meat anymore, why does this have HAM in it?!” HA! My son said, “Good soup Mom” and then ate every bite and licked his bowl….A rare occurance around here! I liked it so much I ate it again for breakfast this morning. Ok, enough bragging, here it is:

Smokey Vegan Split Pea Soup

1 red onion, diced

4 carrots, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 large russet or red potato, diced with peel on

1 t. dried thyme

8 C. water
2 T. Better than Bullion’s NO chicken base
1 T. Liquid smoke (yes, it’s vegan)
16 oz. (1 lb) green split peas
1 bay leaf
Water saute the onion, carrots, garlic and potato and thyme in large saucepan with 1/2 C. water until the onion is translucent. Add all the other ingredients. Simmer over low heat with the lid on for 30-40 minutes, until peas are very tender. Remove bay leaf. Serve as is, blend until smooth or pulse a few times with a stick blender (my favorite method) for a slightly thickened but still chunky soup. The liquid smoke really gives it the ‘ham’ flavor! It is much thicker the next day, those peas keep expanding!
This recipe can also be made in a Crockpot. Just stick in all the ingredients and let it cook all day.